Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders and can affect people of all ages, from adults to children, and even babies.

Prolonged tiredness, as well as difficulty breathing and chronic snoring are all general indicators of sleep apnea. While it is serious, it is also treatable if diagnosed.

Here is a list of useful information about sleep apnea to help you understand about this medical condition, including how to identify it, and how to restore your wellbeing and health through effective management.

Contents:

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea (also spelled ‘sleep apnoea’) is a sleep disorder which impacts a person’s regular breathing patterns during the night. With untreated sleep apnea, their breath becomes shallow or is interrupted for short periods of time.

These quick pauses usually last for approximately 10 to 20 seconds, and occur repeatedly throughout the night, which can leave you gasping for sufficient air. While this may not wake you up completely, it can significantly throw off your natural sleeping rhythm.

The effect of this irregular, staggered breathing means that you spend more time in lighter sleep phases, and less in the deep regenerative sleep that your body needs to restore energy and mental acuity to be productive the following day.

SleepApnea

Sleep apnea can result in chronic sleep deprivation, which can lead to feeling lethargic and tired throughout the day, poor concentration levels, slow reflexes and an increased risk of accidents.

However, with effective treatment, the symptoms can be managed to help restore your regular sleep patterns so you can experience all of the benefits that come with a better night’s sleep, such as feeling more refreshed, well-rested and alert each day.

The three types of sleep apnea

There are three types of medically diagnosable sleep apnea:

  1. Central Sleep Apnea involves the central nervous system, and occurs when airflow becomes interrupted due to the brain incorrectly signalling the muscles which control breathing.
  2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is the most common type of sleep apnea, occurs when the soft palate tissue located at the back of your throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, often causing you to snore and gasp to maintain airflow.
  3. Complex or Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea, and is caused when breathing during the night is interrupted by both a failure of the central nervous system and physical blockage of the airway.



The common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea

If left undiagnosed and untreated, sleep apnea can be detrimental to your health and well-being every day, which is why it’s important to be able to identify the warning signs and take appropriate action. Generally, the most common sign of a person suffering from sleep apnea is snoring, as well as choking and gasping for air between interruptions in normal breathing patterns throughout the night.

Watch this video, Why Do We Snore?  here:

Unfortunately, as sleep apnea affects you while you are sleeping, it makes it difficult to determine if you are showing these more obvious signs, unless you have a partner or housemate who overhears you snoring or gasping loudly.

Symptoms-2

However, there are a few warning signs that you can look out for that may suggest you could be suffering from sleep apnea.

These include:

  • Morning headaches
  • Poor or restless sleep
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of energy
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Dry mouth

While once-off or isolated occasions of these symptoms may not be anything to be too concerned with, ongoing occurrences with a combination may require medical assessment.

How can sleep apnea affect your health and lifestyle?

Are you wondering, is it sleep apnea or just snoring? Unfortunately, the above symptoms can often be dismissed as just a normal part of life or mild annoyances, however sleep apnea can be a serious health concern if left untreated, and can cause a range of medical conditions.

Additionally, untreated sleep apnea may also have a more indirect impact, such as job impairment and motor vehicle accidents due to the effects of sleep deprivation, daytime tiredness and poor concentration levels.

Do you have sleep apnea?

If you’re experiencing some of the above symptoms and suspect that sleep apnea may be the cause, it’s best to take action.

The first step is to take an online sleep assessment. It only takes a few minutes to complete and will give you more information regarding your circumstances.

Upon completion, a sleep specialist will be in touch to discuss the results and advise you on whether to take a home sleep test to confirm if you have sleep apnea.

Take A Free Sleep Assessment

 

If you are recommended to take a Home Sleep Test, you can order these online through our website.

Most sleep disorders are completely treatable and can improve your quality of sleep each night, however this starts with accurate diagnosis.

Taking a home sleep test will record your respiratory effort, airflow, pulse rate and oxygen saturation whilst you sleep. These results will provide an accurate diagnosis of whether you have sleep apnea. 

Order a Home Sleep Test


How is sleep apnea treated?

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, taking steps to manage your condition can improve your sleep quality, help with alleviating symptoms, and improve your overall physical and mental well-being.

For more information, read our article Sleep apnea diagnosis: What’s next?

There are several different ways to treat sleep apnea, so it’s a good idea to look at all of your options to consider which method best suits your circumstances and lifestyle. It’s also recommended to consult a medical professional to help you make the right decision.

The most common treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea include:

  • CPAP therapy
    Sleep apnea is most commonly and effectively treated by Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. With CPAP, the user’s airways are kept open with the aid of a breathing machine and mask that’s worn over the nose and/or face. The equipment helps sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea breathe more easily during sleep.
    For more information, read our article What is CPAP? Everything you need to know.

  • Lifestyle changes
    Adjustments to your eating habits and lifestyle is often a simple and easy way to help reduce some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. For example, if you are overweight, dropping a few kilograms can positively impact your general health, while reducing your snoring and increase your daily energy levels. Alcohol and smoking can also aggravate the symptoms of sleep apnea, so cutting down on your consumption can also help.

  • Oral appliances
    Dental appliances, such as a mandibular repositioning device (MRB), can help with keeping your upper airways open by increasing the amount of space behind the tongue. These mouthguard-like devices can help with preventing apneas and snoring and have been shown to be particularly effective with mild OSA patients.

  • Theravent therapy
    Theravent is similar to Provent in that it’s a nasal strip designed to reduce or stop snoring, one of the most noticeable symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Unlike Provent, however, Theravent is an anti-snoring device only and cannot be used to treat OSA.

  • Provent therapy
    Provent is a safe and non-invasive treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea, using a disposable medical device worn over the nostrils to maintain normal breathing at night and keep airflow unobstructed.

  • Surgery
    Some patients undergo surgical procedures to increase the size of the airway, allowing for a greater flow of air and less chance of obstruction.

For more information, read our blog Sleep apnea diagnosis: what’s next?

Diagnosed with sleep apnea? What’s next?

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea and advised to undertake treatment, you may feel a little overwhelmed and worried at first.

However, you will find that the benefits of reducing the symptoms will allow you to reclaim your quality of life and quickly outweigh any negatives you may have experienced initially

Once you get comfortable with your prescribed treatment option, you will feel like a new you again, because it will restore your healthy sleeping patterns which allow you to rest well again each night.

For help along your journey, read our article Getting used to your sleep apnea therapy

We hope that you are now feeling empowered about sleep apnea treatment and are ready to take your next step in restoring quality sleep to improve your health and well-being.

This information will set you on the road to regaining your quality of life, but just remember that for most people, getting comfortable with your sleep apnea treatment takes some time. Be patient and know that the results are definitely worth it.

How our Online Sleep Assessment can help you

If you are constantly tired and experiencing sleepiness during the day, you might be suffering from a sleeping problem.

Undertaking our free online sleep assessment will help you better understand your situation, as well as how to improve your restful state and your overall health.

The assessment only takes a few minutes to complete, and asks you a series of simple questions designed to help you uncover the cause. It will then conveniently send the results to you via an email.

Take A Free Sleep Assessment

References

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8464434

2 Morgenthaler TI et al. Complex sleep apnea syndrome: is it a unique clinical syndrome? Sleep 2006;29(9):1203-9.

3 https://www.resmed.com/us/en/healthcare-professional/research-and-education/research/traffic-accidents.html

4 https://www.resmed.com/au/en/consumer/diagnosis-and-treatment/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea-treatment/sleep-apnea-treatment-options.html